Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Real 'Collusion' — Deep State's Failed Effort To Elect Hillary Clinton Unravels

Editorial: Investor's Business Daily

Russia Investigation

President Trump may soon release classified documents related to top FBI official Bruce Ohr and former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. If so, it's likely to reveal once and for all the sham nature of the FBI's "investigation" of alleged Trump-Russia collusion during the 2016 election.

The move, according to the news site Axios, comes at the behest of House GOP members of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees. 

In recent hearings, they have heard evidence that suggests the FBI ran a shoddy, politicized and possibly illegal internal campaign to get permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to spy on Page.

For the record, using the powerful investigative and surveillance powers of the federal government for partisan purposes is a federal crime punishable by time in prison. It's not a joke.

"They (GOP House members)  allege that (former Associte Deputy Attorney General) Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats," Axios noted.

"Improper intermediary role" is an understatement.

Bruce Ohr's wife, the Russophile former CIA employee Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS and actually helped compile the now infamous Steele dossier.

Steele was on the FBI's payroll, until he decided to make his dirty dossier on Donald Trump public via selective release to friendly media sources.

But Steele's firing by the FBI shortly before the 2016 election didn't matter, because he continued to talk to Bruce Ohr. And, of course, Ohr's wife Nellie served as a conduit from Hillary Clinton-funded Fusion GPS for information, tainted or otherwise, about Trump.

Which explains why Ohr, the FBI's fourth-highest official, never included the information about his wife working for Fusion GPS on federal conflict-of-interest forms he had to fill out, which is itself a violation of the law.

The Steele dossier is at the heart of this flap, since it was used extensively four times in 2016 and 2017 in applications to FISC to justify spying on Carter Page.

Even Trump foe James Comey, former head of the FBI, called the contents of the dossier "salacious and unverified." If so, why did the Justice Department and FBI use it so extensively in their investigation?

The only answer that appears reasonable is that it was never really an investigation at all, but rather a partisan maneuver to get Democrat Hillary Clinton elected using the nation's national security apparatus.

If you want to talk about "high crimes and misdemeanors," this is it.
A recent piece by John Solomon in The Hill outlined the growing evidence against Ohr in the collusion investgation:

"Ohr's own notes, emails and text messages show he communicated extensively with Steele and with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson," Solomon wrote. "Those documents have been turned over in recent weeks to investigative bodies in Congress and the DOJ, but not reviewed outside the investigative ranks until now.

"They show Ohr had contact with Steele in the days just before the FBI opened its Trump-Russia probe in summer 2016, and then engaged Steele as a "confidential human source" (CHS) assisting in that probe.

"They also confirm that Ohr later became a critical conduit of continuing information from Steele after the FBI ended the Brit's role as an informant.

" 'B, doubtless a sad and crazy day for you re- SY,' Steele texted Ohr on Jan. 31, 2017, referencing President Trump's firing of Sally Yates for insubordination.

"Steele's FBI relationship had been terminated about three months earlier.  The bureau concluded on Nov. 1, 2016, that he leaked information to the news media and was "not suitable for use" as a confidential source, memos show.

"The FBI specifically instructed Steele that he could no longer 'operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI,' those memos show."

Astounding. As American Thinker founder Thomas Lifson put it, "The weaponization of the FBI's counterintelligence operations on behalf of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy is the greatest political scandal in American history."

As the evidence of massive collusion to subvert an American presidential election emerges, it increasingly appears it wasn't the Russians who were behind it, but virulently anti-Trump activists burrowed deeply within the FBI, Justice Department and CIA.

Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller has reported, "Sources familiar with Ohr's testimony before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Ohr informed Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page about his interactions with Steele and (Fusion GPS founder Glenn) Simpson. He also informed Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann about his dossier-related work."

Whose Collusion?

Let that sink in for a minute. Weissmann is a top operative in Robert Mueller's investigation of alleged Trump-Russian meddling in the 2016 election. So everyone was "in the loop," so to speak on what appears to be an illicit effort to dig up dirt on a single presidential candidate — all funded by his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, and by the taxpayers.

And emails of those officials named in Ross's reporting show an almost pathological hatred of Trump. They suggest FBI and Justice officials were willing to subvert the law to keep Trump out of the White House — or to have him removed once he won.

Worse still, the media, with reams of damning evidence virtually dumped in their laps, have chosen to ignore what's going on.

Even without the media, the FBI's and Justice Department's story is coming apart. With a possible dump of classified information used in putting together the FISA applications, we'll soon see just how corrupt their "investigation" is.



The Party of Kaepernick

By Kyle Smith | National Review

Colin Kaepernick speaks with reporters after a game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash., in 2016. (Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)

Nike has set a political trap for Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections, and the party’s candidates are walking right into it.

The Democrats’ winning midterm campaign message would seem simple enough: Trump is bad and must be opposed. Yet at the moment the party risks being associated with a somewhat less attractive message: The American flag is bad and must be opposed.

Last week, left-wing Democrat Ayanna Pressley ousted long-term incumbent Michael Capuano from the John F. Kennedy/Tip O’Neill House seat in the Democratic primary while praising the NFL anti-flag protests, which her opponent called “wrong.” 

Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke says — in Texas! — that there is “nothing more American” than kneeling for the national anthem. 

The judicious center-left New York Times columnist David Leonhardt notes in his daily newsletter that “the anthem is a trap for Democrats.”

That Nike rolled out Colin Kaepernick as its new spokesman not only knocked a couple of billion dollars off the value of the company, it also amounts to an in-kind campaign contribution to the Republican Party. 

The Left and its base of activists, pundits, and (increasingly) woke capitalists simply can’t let this issue go, much less acknowledge that its flag-dissing is conceptually flawed. 

Demonizing a huge population based on stereotypes derived from the actions of a few of its members is exactly the kind of anti-American impulse that liberals once stood so valiantly against.

The Kaepernick-led anthem protests were wrong-headed to begin with. 

Try to follow this logic: The misbehavior of a few police officers means the police in general should be reviled. 

And if we revile the police the entire American project is to be rebuked by protesting the anthem. Martin Luther King Jr., by contrast, said his stirring vision was “deeply rooted in the American dream.” He called upon us to live up to American ideals. 

That isn’t Kaepernick’s message.

Now the protests have gone meta: 

They’re not about policing, they’re about Kaepernick. 

They are protests about a protester. 

A mediocre quarterback turned accomplished flag-troller is a hero to the extreme left, and because the extreme left wields gargantuan cultural power his story receives fawning treatment that, to a swing voter in Missouri or Indiana or Montana, seems out of touch or absurd or even enraging. 

Leonhardt cites an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows voters find the flag protests to be inappropriate by an eleven-point margin, which almost surely understates the gravity of the problem for Democrats. 

For one thing, the poll’s question was phrased to nudge respondents toward sympathy for the protesters. 

For another, you can be sure that the unemployed quarterback, like the similarly jobless Hillary Clinton, rolled up huge margins of support in population centers like New York City and Philadelphia and Chicago, which means he lost big in the areas that are politically contested.

Nike’s net approval rating plunged an astonishing 34 points last week, the kind of polling shift you wouldn’t expect to see unless Air Jordans were proven to cause ankle cancer. Keeping Kaepernick front and center in the national discourse is a bad move for a sneaker company, a bad move for the pundits and activists who cheered it, and a bad move for any Democratic office-seeker. 

If voters get it into their heads that this November 6 is about whether you should kneel or stand for the national anthem, it won’t work out well for Democrats in the short or long term.

President Trump is a political genius in much the same way that Wile E. Coyote is a mechanical genius, but he has proven that he has some lizard-brain, WWE-tinged sense of how to push the public’s buttons. 

And Republican strategists are saying that this is as good a shot as any they have of changing the subject from the bedlam in the White House. 

It may not be long before Trump starts literally wrapping himself in the flag while wearing flag shorts, à la Rocky IV.

Do the anthem protests matter when it comes to deciding which political party to vote for? It’s hard to see how they do. But the stuff that does matter is complicated, boring, frustrating. And voters are neither patient nor entirely rational in the first place. 

Thanks to the Trumpification of national discourse, which turns previously mild-mannered politicians into wannabee Howard Beales and is costing us more collective IQ points than a national mandate to drink lead-infused tea, voters appear to be growing less rational by the hour. 

Some not insignificant percentage of the public got excited about Trump in part because they were under the impression it was no longer okay to say “Merry Christmas,” after all.

Democrats would be wise to decline to take Trump’s bait here, and to inform the public that they’re on our side, not with the petulant millionaire athletes and the newly crowned king of Nike endorsements. 

The entire controversy is an opportunity for the party to prove it stands with a broad swathe of the country, rather than the elites who disgust so many ordinary Americans.

But, then again, the Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.


By Rich Lowry | New York Post

Donald Trump Pool/Getty Images

The economic recovery is really beginning to reach into Trump country.

The president is famous for his extravagant promises, involving, invariably, the biggest and the best.

The landscape is littered with examples, although he never promised to create blue-collar jobs at the fastest clip since 1984, something he achieved in the first half of 2018.

A labor market that has been rocky since the financial crisis, and hasn’t truly delivered for many workers for decades, is robust enough to reach all corners of the economy, including Trump areas that have recently been doing better than other parts of the country.

As the Brookings Institution observes, “Goods-producing industries have been surging while services industries have seen their seasonally adjusted employment growth slow since 2016.” 

This is good news for smaller, more rural areas, which are now actually outpacing the growth rate in large urban areas.

According to Jed Kolko of Indeed Hiring Lab, “Job growth accelerated between 2016 and 17 in counties that Trump won by at least 20 points.”

Industries emphasized by Trump have performed particularly well, in contrast to how they fared under Obama. 

Kolko points out that mining and logging employment has increased 9 percent the first 18 months under President Trump, after declining nearly 14 percent over the last 18 months of the Obama administration. 

Manufacturing employment is up 2 percent in the first 18 months of Trump, whereas it was flat the last 18 months under President Barack Obama.

Several things are going on. As the labor market has tightened — in June, there were 6.7 million job openings, and 6.6 million unemployed Americans — it has benefited workers down the income scale. “Among those without a college degree,” Kolko writes, “both non-Hispanic Whites, who lean red, and Hispanics and non-Whites, who lean blue, have seen strong gains under Trump.”

Relatively high oil prices give a boost to the extraction industry (and the manufacturers that make its equipment), while manufacturing in general benefits from a strong global economy.

The administration, for its part, has leaned into a pro-growth tax and deregulatory program meant to spur more investment and remove burdens on business. 

The goal has been to defeat fatalist predictions of a “secular stagnation” that supposedly meant that we could never realistically expect anything more than middling economic growth.

At the moment, the warnings are less of stagnation than of an alleged labor shortage that, according to CNBC, is nearing “epidemic proportions.” This is exactly what we need. As Josh Barro of Business Insider points out, a tight labor market puts welcome upward pressure on wages and creates an incentive for workers to get more training and employers to provide it.

This dynamic still needs time to take hold. 

Wage growth, at least by traditional measures, has been surprisingly sluggish given the low unemployment rate (the White House argues that wages are being mis-measured and underestimated).

But in August, encouragingly, average hourly wages increased 2.9 percent from a year ago, the biggest increase since June 2009.

As for training, a report from the National Association of Manufacturers says that two-thirds of manufacturers plan to increase worker training in the next year. 

This is so important because it’s only possible to achieve sustainable wage gains by increasing the productivity of workers. And so far, despite the boom, productivity increases have still been lagging.

The encouraging news for blue-collar workers is welcome. But we should set our sights higher: Regaining what was lost in the aftermath of the financial crisis isn’t enough.

The national priority should be, as Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute argues in his forthcoming book “The Once and Future Worker,” returning to a lost golden age of work, when labor-force-participation rates and wage growth were both reliably high.

The implicit Trump pledge in the 2016 campaign was of jobs good and stable enough to make a decent living and raise a family. That should never be over-promising in America.